What happens when you put pancake batter in a waffle iron? The answer for Joe Sparatta, chef and owner of Heritage in Richmond, Virginia: a revelation. Spurred by a distaste for leftover batter, Sparatta added cheddar cheese to his pancake batter and threw the combination into a hot waffle iron. A few minutes later, he--and his hungry guests--were treated to crisp, cheddar-punctuated waffles. Topped with fried chicken and a generous drizzle of spicy honey, this airy breakfast staple easily transitions from brunch to dinner.
Chicken and Waffles with "Hot Honey"
Recipe adapted from Joe Sparatta, Heritage, Richmond, VA
Yield: Makes 8 square waffles
Cook Time: 45 minutes
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon chile paste (such as Sriracha)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives, plus more to finish
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
1½ cups buttermilk
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon onion powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1½ pounds boneless skin-on chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1. Make the hot honey: In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the honey, chile paste, salt, garlic and onion powder. Whisk until well combined and warmed through. Keep warm over low heat.
2. Make the cheddar waffles: Preheat the oven to 200°. Heat a waffle iron until hot. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk, eggs and melted butter. Use a rubber spatula to mix until the batter is combined. Stir in the cheddar cheese, chives and black pepper.
3. Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray and add enough batter to fill the waffles an inch from the edge (when you close the iron, the batter will spread on its own). Close the waffle iron and cook until the waffles are golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the waffles from the iron, transfer the waffles to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
4. Make the fried chicken: Set a wire rack over a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture. Add enough oil to come 5 to 6 inches up the sides of a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it reaches 350° on an instant-read thermometer.
5. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Strain the chicken through a fine-mesh sieve, then add the chicken pieces to the flour mixture, turning the chicken to evenly coat. Transfer the chicken, one piece at a time, to the hot oil, adding just enough so that the chicken pieces don't touch as they fry. Fry the chicken, using a frying spider or a slotted spoon to turn the pieces over occasionally, until the chicken is browned on all sides and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the fried chicken to the wire rack to drain.
6. Serve the waffles with a few pieces of fried chicken on top. Drizzle with the hot honey and sprinkle with additional chopped chives.